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Sociocultural theory
نویسنده : غلامعلی عباسی - ساعت ۱:٥٥ ‎ق.ظ روز ۱۳٩۱/٦/٢٦
 

The ideas of Vygotsky (1978) and related scholars have found many applications in language pedagogy. Vygostky’s sociocultural theory views humans as culturally and historically situated - not as isolated individuals. A key emphasis lies in the ways that we help each other learn, rather than learning on our own. This help can be called scaffolding (the support provided as buildings are being constructed). Scaffolding can be provided to a student by teachers, more capable peers and even by students at or below that student’s current level. When teachers use CL, they seek to enable students to work towards groups in which scaffolding takes place because the members care about each other, have the skills to help one another (see the CL principle collaborative skills) and are involved in tasks they find meaningful (see the CL principal cooperation as a value).


The ideas of Vygotsky (1978) and related scholars have found many applications in language pedagogy. Vygostky’s sociocultural theory views humans as culturally and historically situated - not as isolated individuals. A key emphasis lies in the ways that we help each other learn, rather than learning on our own. This help can be called scaffolding (the support provided as buildings are being constructed). Scaffolding can be provided to a student by teachers, more capable peers and even by students at or below that student’s current level. When teachers use CL, they seek to enable students to work towards groups in which scaffolding takes place because the members care about each other, have the skills to help one another (see the CL principle collaborative skills) and are involved in tasks they find meaningful (see the CL principal cooperation as a value).

CL overlaps with Sociocultural Theory by attempting to build an environment that fosters mutual aid. As Newman and Holtzman (1993, p. 77) note:

Vygotsky’s strategy was essentially a cooperative learning strategy. He created heterogeneous groups of … children (he called them a collective), providing them not only with the opportunity but the need for cooperation and joint activity by giving them tasks that were beyond the developmental level of some, if not all, of them.

Content-based instruction

The key concept underlying content-based instruction is that language is best learned while focusing on meaning rather than focusing on the form of language. Thus, an overall inductive approach is followed in which students learn content from anywhere in the curriculum, e.g., science or social studies, but at the same time, they are learning grammar and vocabulary as they receive input and produce output while learning that content.

Content-based language instruction fits well with CL (Chamot & O'Malley, 1994) as:

a)      Research suggests that CL promotes learning regardless of the subject area, making it useful for teaching any subject, not just for teaching language.

b)      The CL principle cooperation as a value provides a rich vein of content that may also enhance students’ understanding of the benefits of cooperation. Examples of such content include how insects cooperate among each other, how environmental destruction in one part of the world impacts plants and animals elsewhere, how people throughout history have collaborated and how we depend on so many people in various parts of the world for so many of the things we do and use everyday.

Individual differences

In the past, there was a tendency in education towards an assembly line model of education in which all students were to learn in the same way. Today, the pendulum has swung somewhat, and there is a great appreciation of the many differences that exist between students and a belief that teaching needs to take these differences into account. Kagan and Kagan (1998) capture this new perspective in the slogan “The more ways we teach, the more pupils we reach” (ch. 2, p. 6).

        The individual differences perspective on learning fits well with CL as:

a)      group activities provide a different mode of learning rather than a steady diet of teacher-fronted instruction

b)      within groups, students can develop more fully as they can play a wider range of roles than are normally available via teacher-fronted instruction

c)      the CL principle heterogeneous grouping encourages students to interact with peers different from themselves, providing students opportunities to benefit from this diversity and to learn to work with people different from themselves

d)      when groups are working on their own (see the CL principle group autonomy), teachers have more time to spend with students who may need individual attention